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September 4th, 2023 Political Note #566 Adam Gray California 13
2024 General Election
Adam Gray lost his race for Congress in 2022 by 564 votes. The man who beat him, now the Incumbent John Duarte, is #2 on Len’s List of Vulnerable Republicans in Congress. Only Republican Laura Boebert’s opponent in Colorado lost a closer race. Her probable opponent in November, 2024, Adam Frisch, is making his race a national cause. Frisch is raising a stir and raising money.
Adam Gray took his time to decide that he was running again. Perhaps more than any other Congressional race, an influx of money would make a difference. Incumbent John Duarte reported he had $1 million dollars available to spend on July 1. Adam Gray reported $35,000.
California 13 is in the San Joaquin Valley. It is south of Stockton, west of Fresno, east of San Jose, and well north of Bakersfield. Does it have a big city? Merced, maybe, with 86,000 people. The district includes a little bit of Fresno.
Adam Gray was born in Merced. He graduated from high school there and went to Merced College before transferring to the University of California at Santa Barbara, to complete his BA. Adam Gray’s family owned and ran a dairy supply company. Geographically and economically, they were in the middle of this agricultural area. Merced County’s largest companies include a produce packaging company, one of the country’s largest wineries, a large poultry farm, and a large cheese company.
From his earliest days, Adam Gray was less interested in supplying dairies and more interested in politics. If you look for a scandal about Adam Gray, you find that his wife. Cadee Condit Gray, comes from a family with the kind of political history that makes for television drama. Her uncle Darrell was in and out of jail all his life. Her uncle Burl was a cop who got in trouble for buying nine guns from his department and saying he bought one. He also got in trouble for shooting his gun just for fun.
Cadee Condit Gray’s dad was a Congressman. Gary Condit represented California’s 18th Congressional District for six terms. He had more than his 15 minutes of national fame when an intern with the Federal Bureau of Prisons disappeared in May 2001. Condit was accused of having had an affair with Chandra Levy, the intern whose remains were discovered a year later. The entire story became something of a cause for celebrity columnist Dominick Dunne.
The police say Condit was never a suspect, but his constituents suspected him of something. If nothing else they thought there was an inconsistency between his pro-family politics and his apparent affair with a young woman. The political result was that, in 2002, he couldn’t get into the primary run off. Condit’s son and daughter had tried to help. Both resigned from their work with then Governor Gray Davis and worked for a PAC created to support their father. The California body that oversees elections sued them for receiving substantial payments from the PAC.
Cadee Condit Gray is particularly wary of public scrutiny, so wary that a fair number of publications (including my 2022 Note about Adam Gray) reported that she and Adam Gray were no longer married. Her father’s experience may be what prompts her effort to avoid visibility.
After he graduated from Santa Barbara, Adam Gray worked for several state legislators. He found ambitious men from whom he could learn what to do or what not to do. Herb Wesson who became President of the Los Angeles City Council and Speaker of the Assembly, Fabian Nunez who became Speaker of the Assembly, Jerome Horton who became a member of the Board of Equalization, Dennis Cardoza who became a Member of Congress, and State Senator Ron Calderon who pled guilty of mail fraud after a bribery investigation. In 2013 Adam Gray testified against Calderon in the investigation.
By the time he testified, Adam Gray had himself been elected to the State Assembly. He remained in the Assembly until 2022, earning a reputation as being especially effective in bringing resources to the San Joaquin Valley.
Asked about why 2024 would be different, why it would be a year when he could defeat Duarte, Adam Grayexplained that turnout in Presidential years is larger than turnout in mid-term years. In 2020, more than 75% of those registered in Merced County voted in the election. In 2022, only 45%of those registered actually voted. He might have added that Democrats have a registration edge in the district as well as Merced County and that he is working to get a higher turnout. In an interview he predicted that “a lot of folks [will be] coming out to the polls, and I am confident that my message of collaboration and fighting for the Valley is going to be the winning message at the end of the day.” He calls himself a kind of radical centrist who works across party lines. That was certainly true in the legislature. It is not so easy to work effectively across party lines in the polarized US Congress.
The incumbent is from an agricultural family of Portuguese descent and an Episcopalian. John Duarte began as Vice President of Sales for the family agrobusiness and, in 2007, became its Chief Executive. The business grows almonds, pistachios and grapes and got in trouble with the federal government for damaging wetlands when they attempted to add wheat to their crops. The Duartes resisted a $2.8 million fine sought by the Army Corps of Engineers, but settled – paying $1.1 million in fines.
In Congress, as might be expected from someone elected by so narrow a margin, Duarte is not among the most extreme Members. He opposed extreme positions on abortion, on LGBTQ rights, on confederate statues, and especially on immigration – arguing that E-Verify is devastating to farmers.
John Duarte is not a push over. Adam Gray will need to build a campaign fund that can match the incumbent. Help him do that. This is a winnable seat for a Democrat who has enough resources to run a winning campaign. Adam Gray has some catching up to do. The incumbent had $1 million on July 1; Adam Gray had $35,000.
The West Coast has several closely contested seats – Vulnerable Democratic incumbents; Vulnerable Republican Incumbents. Take a look at some of them. Consider helping some of them.
Seven Vulnerable Democratic Incumbents in the Pacific Coast and the Northwest
Marie Gluesenkamp Perez Washington 03. A graduate of Reed College. she is in her first term. She and her husband have been running an auto repair shop and she is #4 on Len’s List of vulnerable Democratic incumbents. She had $1.2 million available for her campaign on July 1. Her opponent in 2022 had $370,000. Another Republican has been raising money as well. Len’s Political Note #543
Incumbent Andrea Salinas Oregon 06 is in her first term and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was a congressional aide before becoming a leading non-profit figure in Oregon and is #8 on Len’s List of vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Neither of the announced Republican candidates had begun fund raising before July 1. Andrea Salinas had less than $500,000 for her campaign as of July 1. Len’s Political Note #548
Incumbent Jim Costa California 21 is #14 on Len’s List of vulnerable Democrats. The son of farmers, he preferred politics. He began July with $600,000 available for his campaign. His Republican opponent, an aviation executive, had $200,000. Both will be raising money. Len’s Political Note #566
Incumbent Mike Levin California 49 is in his second term after ousting a Republican incumbent. Co-founder of a clean energy trade association, he has a BA from Stanford and a JD from Duke. He is #25 on Len’s List of vulnerable Democratic incumbents and entered July with $850,000 for his campaign. Two Republicans have been raising money for the campaign. One had $250,000, the other $100,000.
Incumbent Kim Schrier Washington 08 was first elected in 2018. A pediatrician, she ran for Congress in response to Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She is #32 on Len’s List of vulnerable Democrats. A banker, Carmen Goers has announced her candidacy, but has not yet raised much money. Schrier had $1.2 million available for her campaign on July 1. Len’s Political Note #390 for the 2022 election.
Incumbent Mary Peltola Alaska AL is in her first term of office. Alaska’s first native American Member of Congress and first Democrat elected statewide in several years, she has an informal alliance with Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. Mary Peltola was a beneficiary of Alaska’s ranked voting run off of the top four candidates in their non-partisan primary. She is #35 on Len’s List of vulnerable Democratic incumbents. She began July with almost $800,000 available for her campaign. Her only Republican opponent so far had just begun raising money.
Incumbent Val Hoyle Oregon 04 grew up and went to school in Massachusetts. She became sufficiently acclimated to Oregon and its politics so that she served as the state’s labor commissioner. She is #36 on Len’s List of vulnerable Democratic incumbents and had $200,000 available for her campaign on July 1. No Republicans have yet announced for this seat.
Two Democrats running against Vulnerable Republican Incumbents in the Pacific and the Northwest .
Republican Ken Calvert California 41 was first elected to Congress in 1982. He has long been a strong opponent of abortion and of same sex marriage. He is #17 on Len’s List of vulnerable Republicans both because of an increase in Hispanic residents in the district and the inclusion of Palm Springs in the district, a heavily Democratic and gay friendly city. Former federal prosecutor and a gay man, Will Rollins will be his opponent again. The incumbent had $1.5 million available on July 1; Will Rollins had $800,000. Len’s Political Note #588 is coming soon.
Republican Mike Garcia California 27 is a former navy pilot and division manager of Raytheon. He first came to Congress in a special election in 2020 and has defeated the same opponent twice since then. He is #19 on Len’s List Vulnerable Republican incumbents. The probable Democratic candidate is ex CEO George Whitesides, who had a little more than $1.2 Million for his campaign at the beginning of July. The incumbent had a little less than $1.2 million.
A Northwestern Senate races to consider:
Montana Incumbent Jon Tester is running in a state that Donald Trump won in 2020 57-41. As the only working farmer in the Senate, he is popular in Montana. Polls earlier in the year showed him roughly even with several possible opponents. He has geared himself up for the campaign. On July 1, he had $10.5 million available for the campaign and no announced Republican opponent. Keep him ahead of the game. Whoever emerges as the probable Republican nominee will raise a lot of money quickly. Len’s Political Note #550